Australia’s only nuclear engineering program expands

nuclear engineering program

The Sir William Tyree Foundation has donated $1 million to the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to support expanding nuclear engineering program and foster the skills in Australia for using future technology. 

The program prepares students for careers in high-tech industries including nuclear science, nuclear medicine, mining and resources, energy, manufacturing, aerospace, space exploration and defence. 

The funding will support scholarships for around 20 domestic students to obtain a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from UNSW’s School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, along with top-up scholarships and research expenses for research students. Funding will also support work placements with industry partners and other professional development opportunities for the Tyree Scholars. 

UNSW already has partnerships with industry and research organisations, both in Australia and internationally, to provide students with opportunities for industry placements, career development and research projects. 

“By combining our core nuclear courses with others in UNSW Engineering, and leveraging existing close partnerships with universities and national laboratories in the US and UK, we are well prepared for the challenge of educating a new generation of Australian nuclear engineers,” UNSW nuclear engineering program head Dr Edward Obbard said. 

The Sir William Tyree Foundation continues its support of the program, which began in 2014. 

“This gift builds on the foundations laid down to develop a high-tech nuclear industry in Australia, which will be essential if we choose to adopt nuclear energy as one of the options available to our country as it deals with climate change,” Sir William Tyree’s daughter and chair of the foundation board, Robyn Fennell said. 

“To make this a reality, nuclear engineering programs like UNSW’s are critical in ensuring Australia has the home-grown skills to support that choice. My father believed strongly in the benefits of nuclear energy as a safe, clean power source for Australia and our gift continues to support that vision.” 

The nuclear engineering program is internationally recognised, and UNSW was one of only 20 universities globally invited to be a founding member of the NEA Global Forum on Nuclear Education, Science, Technology and Policy. 

“The need for nuclear technologists is growing globally, as both nuclear-generating countries and those that don’t have commercial nuclear power recognise the need for new generations of engineers, with the expertise to apply nuclear science and technology to meet medical, industrial, energy and environmental challenges,” OECD Nuclear Energy Agency director general William Magwood said. 

“After visiting UNSW in 2019, I was impressed with the education programs provided by the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. The passion of UNSW students for engaging with cutting-edge energy technologies was very compelling. We need their energy and expertise to address the complex issues facing the global community.” 

Beyond nuclear energy, Australia has vibrant industries in nuclear medicine, nuclear science research and mining and resources, where nuclear skills are needed. Nuclear expertise is also applicable in other high-tech sectors such as advanced manufacturing, aerospace and defence.